The small village of Pandrethan is situated 3 miles above Srinagar on the Anantnag cart-road. At present its only attraction, excepting the newly built military barracks, is the well-preserved mediaeval temple behind the willow grove on the left-hand side of the cart-road (Plates XLIV, LXIII, LXIV, LXV and LXVI). The temple measures 17 feet 6 inches square externally, and belongs to the mandapa type - i.e., it is open on all the four sides. The unusually bold projection of the pilasters which support the pediments of the porches is "a great improvement upon the earlier stage, as the boldness of the projection and the retirement of the connecting walls afford a great and pleasing variety of light and shade which is altogether wanting in some parts of the more ancient buildings." The roof is of the usual pyramidal type, but its monotony is relieved by an ornamental band of dentils which divides it horizontally into two storeys. In the upper section of the pyramid are four trefoiled ventilation apertures which remind one forcibly of similar niches in the architecture of Gandhara. The interior of the cella is plain, except for the ceiling (Plate LXVI), which is one of the best examples of carving on stone extant in Kashmir. It consists of nine stones arranged in three overlapping squares, each of which cuts off the angles of the square below it, and thus reduces the extent of the space to be covered. The twelve triangles so formed have been utilised for figure decoration. Each triangle in the lowest square contains a pair of flying Yakshas, facing each other and holding a garland in their hands, which falls in swags about their bodies and between their knees. The second group of triangles contains only four figures, each holding a disc in his right hand and a lotus stalk in his left. Underneath his right arm is seen the outstretched end of flying drapery. The uppermost set of triangles contains a similar group of flying figures. The whole is crowned by a square slab decorated with an exquisitely carved full-blown lotus within a beaded circle. The convention by which the peculiarly graceful floating motion of the body, somewhat similar to that of a swimmer, is made to represent the flight of human figures without the appendage of wings, is noteworthy. The floor of the cella is paved with stone flags. In the centre is the depression about 7 feet square which must have held the pedestal of the image worshipped in the temple.
The plinth of the temple remains submerged for the greater part of the year, but it is certain that it is well preserved. A remarkable feature of it is the string-course of elephants which runs round the temple and upon which the walls of the sanctum rest. The springs which have arisen round the structure do not seem to have been there when the temple was originally built, for it is impossible to believe, now that Cunningham's theory of " the Kashmirian temple being placed in the centre of a tank " no longer holds good, that the temple was built in the midst of an extensive marsh, which has only lately been drained.
Cunningham, and after him Cowie, Cole, etc., believed that the temple was "Vishnu-meruvardhanasvami," built by Meruvardhana, the minister of Partha who flourished in the beginning of the tenth century A.D. He bases his identification on the statement of the Rajatarangini coupled with absence of other temples in Pandrethan. But this theory is considerably weakened by the presence, in the trefoiled niche above the northern entrance, of a seated figure which is believed to be the Lakulis'a form of S'iva, and by the internal arrangement of the floor of the cella which " can only admit of a Siva image." The Rajatarangini mentions in another passage the erection of the temple of S'iva-Rilhanesvara by Rilhana, the minister of Jayasimha, about the year A.D. 1135. There is nothing in the architectural style against the identification of our temple with Rilhana's foundation.
Around this site a number of late Brahmanical images have been found.
But the history of Pandrethan goes much farther back than the twelfth century A.D. The name is a corruption of Puranadhisthana, which means " Old Capital." It was founded under the name of grinagari by the emperor Asoka in the third century B.C. But eight hundred years after, Pravarasena II removed the site of his capital farther down the river. Gradually the younger city not only deprived its older rival of all its importance, but usurped its name also, and Asoka's city came to be known simply by the appellation of Puranadhishthana (old city). This name was in use as early as the time of Hsuan-tsang (seventh century A.D.). The only remains that now exist of the ancient Pandrethan are the ruins of level terraces, long lines of loose rubble walls, and innumerable mounds of stone debris, which thickly dot the mountain slopes from Pantchhok to the Sankaracharya hill - an extent of about a miles. Not all these heaps of debris, however, are expected to conceal ancient remains. In fact, a considerable number of them appear to have been collected together for the purpose of bringing all available land under cultivation in olden times, when the population of the country seems to have been larger than it is now. But there are a good manythe excavation of which will undoubtedly yield interesting results. Three such mounds have been tapped and have revealed two Buddhist stupas and the courtyard of a monastery. They are situated on the mountain slope about half a mile to the east of the temple.
BUDDHIST REMAINS AT PANDRETHAN
The stupa known in the records of the Archaeological Department of the State as " Stupa A " is the larger of the two. It was surrounded by a dressed stone wall, only the lowest course of which exists in places. The entrance to the compound seems to have been in the middle of the south wall. The stupa has lost its outer dressed stone casing, except in one or two places. These, however, are sufficient to show that it was in plan a square of 72' with offsets on each side, the re-entering angles of which must have afforded a pleasing contrast of light and shade. Almost all that exists at present is the circular rubble stone core of the structure.
To the west of it is another stupa, but it has been so carefully demolished that nothing remains of it except a few stones, and a rail of its western stair.
With the exception of a few fragmentary sculptures which may be assigned to about the seventh century A.D. or perhaps a little earlier, nothing of importance was found at these sites. The sculptures are, however, very interesting inasmuch as they show that the influence of the art of the Imperial Guptas had penetrated into Kashmir and left a permanent mark upon the local craftsmanship. These sculptures are now in the Srinagar Museum. Plate XLV illustrates a life-size image of a Bodhisattva excavated at Pandrethan. While digging for the foundations of the military buildings in the new cantonment near by, nearly a dozen beautiful sculptures, more than life-size, representing Indrani, Chamunda, Varahi, and other goddesses, known as the Ashta-matrika (eight mothers) were discovered. These too are now preserved in the Srinagar Museum.
The ruins mentioned above and the S'iva temple show that the old capital, though eclipsed by its younger rival, was not entirely deserted even in the later centuries of the mediaeval epoch. Another ancient relic is the beautifully carved stone capital (Plate LXVII) built into a late Muslim platform, situated on the hill slope towards the east of the temple. The carving consists of a pair of geese with highly ornamental foliated tails and crests, facing each other and pecking at what looks like a bunch of grapes placed upon a decorative stand.
The flourishing town of Pampur was founded in the beginning of the ninth century A.D. by Padma, who, though the son of a spirit distiller, had through the influence of his sister, a concubine of King Lalitaditya and mother of the minor Chippata-Jayapida, risen to the position of an all-powerful minister. He consecrated the temple of Padmasvami-Vishnu at Pampur, ancient Padmapura. Remains of the cella of a temple are still in existence near the shrine of Shah Hamadan, which has appropriated two of its fluted columns and other carved stones. Probably these fragments are all that remain of Padma's temple.
The mosque of Pampur is an inferior imitation of the ziarat (shrine) of Shah Hamadan in Srinagar (Plate XLVI).
Three miles and a half above Pandrethan, the road branches off to the sulphur springs at Wuyan and the Khruv game preserves. The branch road skirts the foot of the hills, and after describing a wide sweep of nearly 10 miles, joins the main road at Barus. The village of Loduv is situated on this road at a distance of 3 miles from the last-mentioned place. It contains two temples, the larger one (Plate XLVII) of which stands in the middle of a shallow tank of water which is fed by a spring in its north-east corner. The temple is a very simple structure 24' square externally. It differs from every other temple of Kashmir both in plan and in appearance. Externally the walls are without decoration, their bareness being only partially relieved by a cornice which consists of three courses of stone adorned with projecting fillets. There is a torus course at the base. The corner pilasters are quite plain, and project only very slightly from the walls. The entrance, which is on the south-west side, is headed by a semicircular, almost horseshoe-shaped, arch surmounted by a single-storied pediment of very slight projection. Internally the temple is circular with a diameter of 17' 6". In this respect it resembles the Sankaracharya temple on the Takht-i-Sulaiman hill. The wall surfaces are quite plain. At a height of nearly 10 feet from the ground level is a plain projecting string-course over which springs the domical ceiling. The dome was built of projecting courses of kanjur in lime, and must have been similar to the ceiling of the larger temples at Wangath. The holes and mortices in the walls seem to have been intended for scaffolding while the temple was under construction.
The simplicity of its plan and decoration seems to point to its being, perhaps, the oldest example of Kashmiri mediaeval architecture and the prototype of the elaborate style which culminated at Martand and Avantipur.
The water of the tank is nowhere more than a few inches deep, and a number of green fish of a remarkably light and transparent tinge may always be seen swimming gracefully in it.
A few yards behind this temple, higher up the hill and immediately at the back of the mosque, is a smaller temple which externally presents nearly the same appearance as the larger temple, the only difference being that the projecting pediment which enclosed the round-headed doorway has here developed into a well-defined portico with a trefoil niche. From this arrangement there is but a single easy step to the full trefoil-headed recess or entrance enclosed in a steep pediment which is so universal a feature of the mediaeval religious edifices of Kashmir. As a matter of fact the portico of this same temple had a true trefoiled arch, of which the lower courses are still extant. Internally the temple is only 6 feet square. The ceiling consists of three courses of overlapping stones. There is a base for the image in the centre. The corner pilasters project not more than 2 inches. They are surmounted by rectangular capitals, which seem to have originally borne in relief the figures of some animals, probably lions, standing back to back. The capitals of the pilasters of the portico are carved with floral scrolls.
The village of Avantipur, situated at a distance of 18 miles from Srinagar on the Anantnag cart-road, represents the town of Avantipura, founded by Avantivarman, who reigned from A.D. 855 to 883. Its chief interest centres in two magnificent temples with which its founder embellished it. The first and larger is the temple of S'iva-Avantisvara, whose massive walls rise in forlorn grandeur outside the village of Jaubror, half a mile below Avantipur. The temple, which has been sadly mutilated, is situated in a courtyard enclosed by a massive stone wall, the western face of which is adorned externally with a row of fluted columns, but without any recesses behind. The gateway is in the middle of this wall, and is divided into two chambers by a cross wall. Its walls are not decorated with figure sculpture. The niches and the panels are quite plain.
The base on which the shrine in the centre of the court-yard stands is 57 feet 4 inches square and l0 feet high. To each of its corners was attached a platform about 16' square, which must originally have supported a small subsidiary shrine. It has a stair on each of its four sides like the temple of Pandrethan. The stairs have a width of 28.5 feet, and are supported on either side by flank walls 17.5 feet in length. The sanctum has been reduced to a "confused mass of ruins."
The platforms seem to have originally been attached to the plinth of the temple at one point only, but afterwards they were completely joined with it by means of a connecting wall built of architectural fragments which had fallen from the temple. This arrangement can best be seen at the south-eastern corner of the base.
The sole exterior decoration of the temple base, the only part of the building that exists, is a series of projecting facets, the larger of which were originally surmounted by plain rectangular capitals.
In the two rear corners of the courtyard are two subsidiary shrines.
There is a large assortment of architectural fragments strewn about in the courtyard, the most interesting of which are (1) the spandrel of an arch in front of the southern stair, (2) the flower-and-vase capital of a dodecagonal pilaster, (3) the spandrel of another arch by its side, and (4) the base of a pilaster decorated with two seated rams and a dancing girl who plays upon a .damaru (small hand-drum) standing on a throne ornamented with two lions at the sides and an elephant, facing, in the middle.
Half a mile farther up is the small but much more ornate and better preserved temple of Avantisvami-Vishnu. It is the work of Avantivarman's youth, before he came to the throne. It has been reclaimed by the removal of an enormous mass of silt and debris which during a thousand years of neglect (for the temple had already silted up when it suffered from the iconoclasts) had accumulated to a height of about 15 feet and buried the whole structure except the upper part of the walls of the gateway and a shapeless heap of stones in the centre.
The edifice comprises a colonnaded peristyle (Plates XI, VIII and XLIX) enclosing a paved courtyard 174 feet by 148 feet 8 inches, in the centre of which is the main shrine, built on a double base with four smaller shrines at the four corners. The peristyle is comparatively plain externally except on the west side, which has a row of fluted columns. The only decoration on the other three sides is a rectangular string-course and pilasters enclosing rectangular spaces, corresponding respectively with the cyma recta cornice of the plinth and the cells inside. The entrance, which is in the middle of the west wall, is divided by a cross-wall into two chambers, and is approached by a flight of steps bounded on either side by a plain rail and a side-wall. The front pilasters of the side-walls bear figures of Vishnu and of his consorts carved in relief. On either side of it was a portico supported on tall massive advanced columns, one of which exists to this day, though in a precarious condition.
The wall surface of the entrance is both externally and internally ornamented profusely with sculptured reliefs (Plate L). The larger female figures on the right and left hand walls of the outer chamber represent the goddesses Ganga and Yamuna, easily recognised by their respective vehicles, the crocodile (makara) and the tortoise. The scenes in the rectangular panel on the right-hand pilaster of the wall represent probably a king and his two queens seated in "sportive fashion" on a simhasana (lion throne), here symbolised by two lions facing, one on each side of the panel. On the two external sides of this pilaster the scenes are the same with slight variations. In the scene in front the lions have been replaced by two standing females. In the southern panel the king has his right hand in the abhayamudra (attitude of granting immunity from fear), and the lady on his right is admiring her own charms, reflected in a round pocket-mirror which she holds in her right hand. In the other two panels the figures are seated on separate cushions; here all three occupy a single long cushion.
Three rectangular panels are carved on the huge block which forms the lowest course of the left wall of the gateway. The largest panel is in the middle and contains a bas-relief. In the centre are three figures, a male and two female chauri-bearers; but much more interesting are the highly caparisoned elephants who are fighting with horned birds of monstrous size. It is evident that the elephant is fighting at a disadvantage. (Perhaps the scene syrnbolises the fight of Garuda with the Nagas, the latter here being represented by the elephants and not the usual snake gods. Naga means both snake and elephant.) The other two scenes contain each a male figure standing with folded hands between two human-headed birds. Above this is a row of kirtimukhas, or lions' heads, surmounted by a line of rosettes. Higher still is another row of circular panels, eack containing a Garuda. The rectangular panel in the left cross-wall contains a male and two female figures seated on a cushioned sofa in a grove of trees. They seem to be in a joyous mood. The man is offering the lady at his left hand what seems to be a cup of wine, while the doves at their feet are billing and cooing in sympathy. Above the group is a pedimental niche which contains a smaller representation of the goddess Ganga. On the narrow facets on either side of this niche is a vertical row of standing pairs of male and female figures. This row starts from a rectangular panel which contains the figure of a four-armed Atlas wearing a cushion-like head-dress. The walls were decorated with numerous groups of figures, but unfortunately most of them are now too defaced to be distinguished, much less identified.
The view of the courtyard from the inner chamber of the gateway is charming. In place of the bald monotony of the external surface of the peristyle, the eye feasts on all sides on the picturesque ruins of a beautiful range of cells, preceded by a noble row of fluted columns. Another flight of steps similar to that on the outside leads down to the stone-paved courtyard. The side-walls of this stair are plain, but the pilasters are covered with sculptured reliefs. Each of the smaller panels facing the courtyard depicts an erotic scene.
In the middle of the space between the gateway and the main shrine is a stepped stone which appears to be the base of a Garudadhvaja. It will be remembered that Garuda, the divine eagle, is the vehicle of Vishnu, and also forms the emblem on the banner of his Master. Thus the Garuda-dhvaja column is always an indispensable adjunct of Vaishnava temples.
The central shrine is built on a double base, the only decoration of which is a torus moulding and a cyma recta cornice (Plate LXXIV). The base is intact, but the sanctum which measured 33 feet square externally, has almost disappeared. In fact the only fragments remaining are some parts of the lowest courses and a few stones of the north wall.
Unlike its sister temple lower down the road, this edifice has on!y one stair. But that apparent deficiency is more than rectified by the sculptured reliefs on its pilasters. The two scenes facing the gateway represent Vishnu, the deity worshipped in the temple, seated in an easy affitude between his two consorts, Lakshmi and Bhumi (?). Lakshmi in the northern group (Plate L) is distinguished by the cornucopia which, even in the late ninth century, to which this temple belongs, was retained as the special emblem of the goddess, who traces her descent, through Gandhara, from the Greek Athene. Vishnu in the northern relief possesses six arms, two of which, in impartial affection, encircle the bodies of his two consorts, while the remaining four hold his distinctive emblems, the bow, the mace, and the lotus, etc. Below the throne are two pairs of parrots, and the same bird crowns the capitals of the square pilasters from which springs the cusped arch which canopies the divine group. The panel is surmounted by a dentil course consisting of conventional lions' heads (kirtimukhas) alternating with geese and flowers. This again is surmounted by a border of square rosettes (Plate L and Plate LXX, A).
The group on the opposite pilaster is similar to that described above, the main difference being that the god, instead of having six has only four arms. The goddesses in every case have only two arms. Both the god and the goddesses are elaborately ornamented. The former has his hair brushed neatly back and arranged in braids which are tied in knots on the top. Two roses are inserted in the braids just above the ears. Besides the necklace and armlets he wears the mandaramala (garland of celestial flowers). An enormous circular ornamental disc adorns his right ear, while a smaller jewelled pendant is suspended from his left ear. The goddesses, whose exaggerated breasts and attenuated waists are even more profusely ornamented, are crowned with three-peaked tiaras. Their ear-lobes are unusually elongated by the weight of their heavy circular ear ornaments.
The relief on the inner surface of the southern pilaster represents a group of ten figures, the central and the largest pair consisting of a male and a female wearing dhotis. The male wears an ornamental band across his breast (over his right shoulder and under his left arm). The whole group seems to breathe a spirit of profound devotion to some undefined object. It probably represents the major and minor gods coming to worship the image of Vishnu in the temple.
The group opposite also comprises ten persons. The principal figures are those of a bearded and crowned male, probably representing the donor, and a lady, perhaps the princess, who wears a scarf over her head which kangs low down her shoulders, a fashion which the women of Kashmir have preserved to this day. The lady is followed by a female attendant. Above her is a male, who wears a curiously knotted and twisted head-dress.
The courtyard is paved with stone flags, and measures 174 feet east to west by 148 feet 8 inches north to south. The five shrines in the courtyard, arranged in a quincunx, show that the group was intended to belong to the pancharatna (five jewels) class. The shrine in the north-east corner seems to have been dedicated to the river goddess Ganga, as the spout of the pedestal of the image which it contained has been carved in the shape of a makara, or crocodile, which is the vehicle of that goddess. The water trough in the courtyard on the north side of the main shrine was intended to hold the sacred washings of the deity inside the sanctum.
But the chief beauty of the temple lies in its cellular colonnade (Plates XLVIII, LXVIII, and LXIX). It comprises sixty-nine cells, each of which measures on the average 3 feet 8 inches by 4 feet l0 inches, the cell in the centre on each side being larger than the rest and advanced slightly forwards. All of them are preceded by twenty-four-sided columns on plain square bases which have for the most part suffered severely at the hands of the destroyer. The only wall decoration of the peristyle is the range of 138 half-engaged columns (Plate LXXI and Plate LXXII) on the pilasters on both sides of the trefoiled entrance of the cells. The latter were intended to contain replicas of the main image which the temple enshrined. In one or two of them in the eastern wall of the peristyle the pedestals of these images are still found in situ.
A large assortment of antiquities has been unearthed during the excavation of this temple. The most valuable are a series of sculptures which have been placed in the Srinagar Museum. The large jars arranged in a row on the lawn above the excavations were, doubtless, used for the storage of grain and foodstuffs. Among those that have been brought to the Museum is onewhich bears an inscription mentioning the name of Avantivarman. This record is of interest as being the only independent evidence of the correct identification of the site.
Kalhana states that the Avantisvami temple was occasionally subjected to sacrilegious treatment even in Hindu times. The tyrannical Kalasa (A.D. 1081-1089) confiscated the villages which formed its endowments. Its military possibilities do not seem to have escaped the notice of the ancients, for " its courtyard served as a fortification when, shortly after the accession of King Jayasimha (A.D. 1128), Bhasa, a commander of the royal troops, was besieged at Avantipur by the rebel Damaras of the Holada (Vular) district." In the fourteenth century Sikandar But-shikan completed the destruction which had already begun in the troublous times which followed the reign of Avantivarman.
Halfway between Avantipur and Payar, about 3 miles from each, is the village of Malangpura, partly hidden from the highroad by the projecting spur of the karewa. On the top of this spur are the ruins of a mediaeval stupa, the only part of which that is in position being the base. The stupa follows the usual plan of other similar structures of its age in Kashmir in that it is square, with two projections on either side and large staircases each of which faces a cardinal point. The most interesting feature of the ruins are the sculptured reliefs which adorn the exterior of the flank walls of the stairs. Each of them is only partly preserved, but the complete group seems to have represented a furious monster pursuing a man, who is flying precipitately before it. The creature, half-brute and half-reptile, is beaked, horned, and winged, with huge protruding eyes. The artist has represented the climax of the struggle, when the monster overtakes his unfortunate victim; its raised paw crushes the left leg of the fleeing man; the terrible beak opens wide and is about to devour his head. The latter in his desperation raises his left arm and thrusts a dagger into the throat of his enemy.
This is the scene as depicted on the left flank wall of the southern staircase. On the right flank wall of the western stair, the monster and the ornamental wheels behind are much better preserved, though unfortunately the forepart of the relief containing the man is missing. The monster here has a curly mane, an ornamental necklace, and foliated wings. Its rear paw has five toes, four of which - three in front and one behind - are visible. Behind are two highly decorated discs.
Three miles farther, and situated at the foot of the karewa on the opposite side of the rivulet, is the village of Payar, which contains a very elegant little temple (Plate LI and Plate LXIII). The name Payach, which has obtained currency through Vigne and Cunningham, is not known locally. The identification of the temple with the temple of Narendrasvami, built by Narendraditya circa A.D. 483-490, proposed by General Cunningham, is in keeping neither with the style of architecture according to which it could be assigned to about the eleventh century A.D. nor with its dedication to Siva, as the name Narendrasvami would presuppose its dedication to Vishnu.
This temple, in spite of, or perhaps more correctly on account of, the feeble attempt that has been made to dismantle it - the top stone of the roof is still out of position - is by far the best preserved example of a mediaeval Kashmiri shrine. It is 8 feet square internally and 21 feet high, including the base, the chief mouldings of which are a plain torus in the middle and a filleted torus on the top. The sanctum is open on all sides, but is reached only by a single flight of steps on the east side. The doorways are rectangular, and are surmounted by a trefoil arch, which in turn is enclosed by a pediment. The pilasters on which the pediments rest are surmounted by capitals bearing pairs of geese with long foliate tails, and the pilasters from which the trefoiled arch springs are crowned by recumbent bull capitals. The bulls have scarves tied to their humps. The eastern trefoil itself encloses a relief, in which Siva is seen seated cross-legged on a throne under the canopy of an overhanging tree, surmounted by votaries, two of whom are seated, European fashion, with legs hanging down. On the north side the relief represents Bhairava, the terrible manifestation of Siva, pursuing a human being, who turns towards him in an attitude of supplication. Behind the Bhairava is a long elephant's trunk. On the west side is the very animated figure of six-armed dancing Siva. The upper two arms are raised aloft, holding the two ends of a scarf. The middle two hands are gesticulating, the lowest left hand holds a flower and the right the trident, the special emblem of S'iva. In the left lower corner of the group is a musician playing on a vina (lute); on the right is another beating a drum in accompaniment.
The southern relief represents a three-headed S'iva seated cross- legged on a wicker-work pedestal. The god is only two-armed and wears the Brahmanical thread. In the left lower corner is a seated female, probably his consort, Parvati. The remaining three figures are emaciated, and are perhaps those of ascetics. Over the god's head is seen the flying figure of a Yakhsha. The corner pilasters are crowned by very beautiful floral capitals.
The roof is pyramidal, and is divided into two sections by an ornamental band, consisting of square spaces alternately projecting and receding. " The latter are occupied by flowers, but the projecting ends are carved into three upright mouldings slightly rounded at the top and surmounted by a straight and horizontal band.'' The resemblance of these triglyph ornaments to the dentils of classical architecture is remarkably striking. The blank sides of the upper pyramid are relieved by gabled niches which are replicas of the doorways, the only difference being that the trefoil of the latter is replaced by a semicircular top, and the tympanum is filled by a flower-ornament. The four pediments as well as the apex of the roof were crowned by ribbed melon-like ornaments, two of which are still in existence.
The superstructure is built of ten stones only. " In the interior the walls are plain, but the roof is hollowed out into a hemispherical dome of which the centre is decorated by an expanded lotus flower. The lower edge of the dome is ornamented by three straight-edged fillets and by a beaded circle. The spandrels are filled by single undraped and winged figures (of rather spirited execution), who with outstretched arms and legs appear to be supporting the roof .... They are probably Yakhshas. The dome itself rests upon the cornice, which is formed of six plain straight-lined mouldings." The ceiling of the Pandrethan temple is a copy of this on a larger scale. The cult image of the temple is a giva-linga, which has an octagonal base.
This is a village situated a little over 20 miles from Avantipur and reached by a rough bridle-path. The road branches off from the Avantipur-Tral road and, skirting the barren hills on the left, debouches into the Arpal valley. From Arpal village Narastan is only 6 miles distant.
The temple (Plate LII), with the exception of the roof, is very well preserved, and possesses several interesting features. It is built on a single base which, unlike other examples of its kind, consists of only four instead of five courses of stones. The cornice is a plain, straightlined, filleted course, of which only the topmost fillet is rounded off into a cyma recta moulding. The base is, as usual, square. The corner pilasters project very slightly from the temple walls. In the middle of each wall is a trefoiled recess surmounted by a highpitched double pediment. This in turn is enclosed by a very shallow closed trefoiled arch, surmounted by a two-storied pediment. The capitals from which the pediments spring are crowned by human- headed birds, facing each other; they are very similar to those of Avantipur. The apex of the pediments is decorated with a squat human figure, which may represent Garuda.
An interesting feature of the temple is the novel treatment of the trefoil arches on the exterior of the shrine walls; the lower trefoil arch is usually shallow or closed, but the upper trefoil is deeply recessed. At Narastan the process has been reversed; the lower trefoil encloses a deeply recessed niche, whereas the upper arch is so shallow that it projects only 2 inches from the plain wall surface. Another remarkable feature is the absence of a circumambulatory path on top of the base, which is a universal feature in temple bases of this size in Kashmir.
The shrine is reached from the courtyard by a flight of four steps. The pilasters of the side-walls of the staircase are adorned with shallow trefoil arches from the apex of which hang two swags of beaded garlands.
The portico projects about 4 feet from the temple wall. Its outer surface is plain except for two pairs of human-headed birds which adorn the capitals. The inner walls of the pilasters are decorated with two pedimental niches, each of which contains the six-armed figure of a goddess. The upper two hands hold a pitcher and a full-blown lotus; the middle two were probably crossed over the breast; and the lower two hang downwards, but the objects they hold are too defaced to be identified. There are miniature fluted columns, standing on bases and surmounted by capitals like those of Avantipur, on each side of the niche. Underneath them are three similar niches containing atlantes.
Internally the temple cell is 8 feet 6 inches square. It faces south and contained a Siva-linga. Its walls are quite plain except for a string- course at a height of 7 feet 6 inches from the floor, which resembles somewhat the cornice of the plinth outside, and a small double-pedimented niche on the east wall, the upper pediment of which is decorated with the carved figure of a kneeling human being. The left pilaster of the niche is only half-carved, which is another illustration of the method of work of the ancient sculptors who were accustomed to carving large stone blocks in situ. Unlike most of the other temples, this one does not possess a ceiling. The walls rise perpendicularly until the level of the eaves is reached. From this point they begin to contract. Each course is made to project slightly beyond the one below it, until at last the space became so narrow as to be spanned by one square stone, upon which doubtless was placed a finial.
The courtyard is 70 feet square. It is surrounded by a wall which is unornamented except for a plain filleted string-course at about 2 feet from the ground, a pedimental trefoiled niche in the west wall, and a recess 3 feet square. It is roofed over by a coping of sloping stones which rest on a cornice similar to the string-course below. There is a small side entrance near the south-western angle of the enclosure wall. In front of the temple stairs is a square tank about 8' square and over 2 feet deep. An elaborate stone conduit poured water into it. The spout of the conduit is carved in front with a full-blown Iotus through the centre of which the water flows; its sides are decorated with grinning makara heads. Above the spout is a stone platform 12 feet by 6 feet 3 inches, which probably served as a bathing place, and in summer would be an admirable place for an afternoon siesta, the more so as the water-conduit runs through its centre. From the tank a drain conducts the water to a chamber in the south-eastern corner of the enclosure wall, whence it makes its final exit from the temple yard. This chamber is 9 feet 6 inches by 12 feet 3 inches, and is entered through a narrow doorway 5 feet 8 inches by 1 feet 6 inches. It has a small trefoiled pedimented window 1 feet 3 inches by 1 feet pierced in the wall at a height of 3 feet 1 inches above the ground. It probably served as the bathroom of female worshippers.
Only a few feet to the north of this chamber is a small shrine 2 feet 10 inches square internally. It has a sloping roof and its ceiling was of superimposed squares like that of the Pandrethan temple.
Exactly opposite the sanctum in the middle of the south wall is the gateway. It consists as usual of a double chamber, each measuring 7 feet by 4 inches, connected by a doorway. Each of the chambers was faced by a pair of half-engaged round columns. The lintel of the doorway was, on the outside, carved with a row of crenellations alternating with squares surmounted by lozenges.
The temple is built of greyish limestone and was originally covered with a thick coat of lime plaster, traces of which still exist.
The temple of Martand (Plate LIII and Plate LXXIII) is situated at a distance of 5 miles from the town of Anantnag. Being on the top of a Iofty plateau, at whose feet stretch the broad verdant plains of Kashmir intersected by a network of rivers, lakes, arid canals, thickly dotted with clusters of busy villages nestling like beehives in closely planted groves of trees, and encircled by snow-clad mountain ramparts - the temple of the Sun, as Martand originally was, commands a superb view, such as the eye rarely lights upon. It is this beauty of situation that contributes so largely to the sense of grandeur with which the sight of these ruins always inspires even the most unimaginative visitors.
Like most mediaeval temples of Kashmir, Martand consists of a courtyard with the principal shrine in the middle and a colonnaded peristyle. The latter is 220 feet long by 142 feet broad and contains eighty-four fluted columns facing the courtyard. The peristyle is externally plain, except on the west side, which originally had a row of columns similar to that of the Avantipur temples.
" The entrance, or gateway, stands in the middle of the western side of the quadrangle, and is of the same width as the temple itself. This proportion is in accordance with the ideas of Hindu architectural grandeur; for the rules laid down by them, as quoted by Ram Raz, give different proportions from six-sevenths to ten-elevenths of the width of the temple, for each different style of gateway from the most simple to the most magnificent. Outwardly the Martand gateway resembles the temple itself in the disposition of its parts and in the decoration of its pediments and pilasters. It was open to west and east, and was divided into distinct portions forming an inner and outer portico, by a cross wall with a doorway in the centre, which was no doubt closed with a wooden door. On each flank of the gateway the pediment was supported by massive fluted pillars, 17.5 feet in height, or 8 feet higher than those in the quadrangle. One of these is still standing to the south of the entrance; and the style of the architrave and entablature which connected these pillars with the gateway must have been the same as that of the architrave in the Avantisvami temple described above. I surmise that the front and back pediments of the gateway were supported on similar large pillars; but it is possible that the square foundations, which I observed in the front, may have been only the remains of the wing-walls of a flight of steps. The roof was no doubt pyramidal; for a portion of the sloping mouldings of its pediment was still to be seen on one side.'' The walls of the gateway are profusely decorated internally and externally, the chief motif of decoration being rows of double pedimented niches alternating with rectangular panels. Most of the pedimented niches contained single standing figures of gods; occasionally they also contained an amorous group similar to those at Avantipur. The rectangular panels contained sitting groups, floral scrolls, pairs of geese, etc. Each of the two large niches in the side-walls of the inner chamber of the gateway contains the tall figure of a three-headed Vishnu standing between two attendants. Immediately below is the long rectangular panel decorated with a row of dancing urchins striking a variety of attitudes. The temple proper " is 63 feet in length by 36 feet in width at the eastern end and only 27 feet in width at the western or entrance end. It contains three distinct chambers, of which the outermost, named ardkamandapa or 'half temple,' answering to the front porch of classical fanes, is 18 feet 10 inches square; the middle one, called antarala or 'mid temple,' corresponding to the pronaos of the Greeks, is 18 feet by 4 inches; and the innermost, named garbhagriha, or 'womb of the edifice,' the naos of the Greeks and the cella of the Romans, is 18 feet 5 inches by 13 feet 10 inches. The first is open and highly decorated in accordance with its name, mandapa, meaning literally ' ornamented.' The middle chamber is decorated in the same style; but the inner chamber is plain and is closed on three sides. The walls of the temple itself are 9 feet thick and of its entrance chamber only 4.5 feet thick, being respectively one half and one fourth of the interior width of the building.''
" Among the images carved on the walls of the antarala and the antechamber, we notice on the left wall of the former a well executed image of the river-goddess Ganga, standing upon her vehicle, the crocodile, which is looking up towards her. A female attendant on her right holds an umbrella over her head, and a chaurt-bearer is on her left. She holds her usual emblems, a water pot in her left hand and the stalk of a lotus flower in her right. (She is crowned with a double conical tiara.) On the opposite side of the antarala is the river-goddess Yamuna, with her vehicle, the tortoise. Above the niche in the north wall is a relief consisting of a pair of Gandharvas in flight with an umbrella over them. The statues on the western walls of the antechamber are undoubtedly representations of Vishnu, and what Mr. Fergusson mistook for hoods of snakes are in reality points of their coronets. Each of them is three-faced, like the Vishnu image found in the Avantisvami temple, the left face being that of a boar (Varaha) and the right one that of a man-lion (Narasimha). Both are eight-armed, and their lower hands are placed on the heads of chauri- bearers, as in other images of Vishnu found in the valley. Furthermore, they wear the garland (vanamala) and we also notice the bust of the earth-goddess (Prithivi) between the feet of the statue on the north wall. Most of the hands of the images are unfortunately broken and weather-worn, and the emblems they hold can no longer be identified. Nor can the fourteen seated figures which occur on the walls of the antechamber below the cornice be identified with certainty. Twelve of them occur in the north and south walls - i.e., six on each, and two on the east wall. Of the two panels on the east wall, the one on the right seems to represent Aruna, the charioteer of Surya, holding the reins of his seven horses. The pilasters of the great trefoil arch of the antechamber contain images which cannot yet be identified.'' " The chapels to the north and south of the antechamber each contain two niches 5' 9" by 4' internally, which face to the east and west respectively, possibly an allusion to the rising and setting of the sun."
The roof seems to have been of the pyramidal type common in the temples of Kashmir.
" Such was once the magnificent mass of building dedicated to the worship of the Sun, a mass 75' in height, 33' in length, and the same in width including the wings. Entrance was gained by a wide flight of steps which are now covered by ruins. On each of the other sides was a closed doorway surmounted by a trefoiled arch, and covered by a pediment which rose to a height of 60'. At the angles of the buildings on each side of the doorway were stout pilasters, which were divided into panels, each decorated with a miniature representation of the Aryan style of temple. These pilasters sustained the entablature, and gave a look of strength and solidity to the walls which was fully needed for the support of the vast and massive roof. This lofty pyramid of stone was itself rendered lighter and more elegant in appearance by being broken into two portions separated by an ornamental band, and by the addition of small niches with pointed roofs and trefoiled recesses, all of which were in strict keeping with the general character of the building."
The peristyle is the largest example of its kind in Kashmir. In the middle of its larger sides there are a pair of large fluted pillars, 13' in height and 8 3/4' apart, somewhat advanced beyond the line of the other cells. " The quadrangle itself contained seventy round, fluted pillars, and ten square parallel pillars which with the four pillars of the central porches make up the number of 84, that was sacred to the sun. Of these about one-half, all more or less imperfect, now remain standing. . . . Each pillar was 9 1/2' in height, and 21 1/2" in diameter, with an intercolumniation of 6' 9 1/2".... The imposts (behind) were surmounted by human-headed birds facing each other, and a smaller bird, looking to the front, ornamented the horizontal mouldings of the pediments ....
" About one-third of this entablature still exists, principally on the north-eastern side of the quadrangle.
" The other walls of the quadrangle are ornamented by a succession of trefoil-headed panels similar in shape and size to the recessed openings of the interior.'' As suggested above, it is probable that its western outer facade was adorned by a series of columns similar to that of the two temples at Avantipur.
There is some uncertainty regarding the exact ascription of this temple, owing to the ambiguity of Kalhana's statement. But the most probable assumption, which is strengthened by the architectural style, is that the temple as it exists today was built by King Lalitaditya in the middle of the eighth century A.D.
The courtyard of the temple was excavated recently, and a vast quantity of debris and stones was removed. Among other movable antiquities which the excavations yielded, the most noteworthy are a number of large earthen jars which were found embedded in the floor of the courtyard. Removal of the accumulated debris of centuries from the base of the temple has also brought to light a very important fact - viz., that previous to the construction of the present temple there existed another temple of somewhat smaller dimensions at this site. When the new temple was built, the older temple base was not demolished, but was enveloped by a new base of larger dimensions, as is borne out by the existence of both bases, side by side, one within the other, on the east side of the temple. The older temple was probably the one built on this site by Ranaditya.
The little village of Bumazuv is situated only a mile to the north of the sacred springs of Bavan (Matan). It contains the only important group of artificial caves in Kashmir. They are very unpretentious excavations and only one of them possesses architectural interest. It is carved out of a large mass of limestone cliffs overlooking a scene of great beauty, comprising the whole of the lower section of the Lidar valley. The stone in which this excavation is made is of a very friable nature. The facade of the gateway has, therefore, been built of stone masonry in lime. It consists of a single trefoil-arched doorway, surmounted by a pediment, and side walls. On the left-side wall is a small rectangular niche measuring 2' 2" by 1' 1". Its pilasters are carved with floral scrolls of extraordinary delicacy. The lintel is ornamented with a row of rosettes and the cornice with a row of slightly projecting dentils, whose intervening spaces appear to have been filled with figures of dancing dwarfs, all of which are now defaced. In its interior is a small temple which is similar in style to other temples of Kashmir. It is 9' 5" square externally and stands on a base 4' 6" in height. A remarkable feature, which points to its being a decadent example, is the very slight projection of the porch. The corner pilasters have two rectangular niches.
BUMAZUV CAVE AND TEMPLES
In the village, at the foot of the cave, are two temples which have been converted into Muslim ziarats. Both of them are now covered with a thick coat of mud plaster, under which all the artistic and architectural features are concealed. The larger temple now goes by the name of the Ziarat of Baba Bamdin Sahib, who is said to have been a disciple of Shaikh Nur-ud-din, the famous Muslim saint of Kashmir. The pyramidal roof is buried under a mound of earth which surmounts the modern square double wooden roof. The interior measures 8' square. The ceiling consists of overlapping stones, like that of the Pandrethan temple. The uppermost stone is carved with a full-blown lotus. The entrance is in the north wall. Unless the coat of plaster is removed it is impossible to say whether the temple was open on other sides.
To the west of this temple are the ruins of a smaller temple. The exterior of the roof is destroyed, but the ceiling inside is intact and is similar to the ceiling of the larger temple. Its porches are exact replicas of those of the cave temple, a fact which leads to the surmise that all three were built at about the same time.
The larger temple has been identified with the Bhimakesaval shrine built by Bhima Shahi of Gandhara, the maternal grandfather of Queen Didda, who ruled Kashmir as the wife of Kshemagupta from A.D. 950-958, and as sole sovereign from A.D. 980-1003.
The spring of Achhabal is perhaps the largest spring in Kashmir. Its old Hindu name was Akshvala, but it does not seem to have been much known in mediaeval times. Abul Fazl speaks of it in the Ain-i-Akbari as " a fountain which shoots up to the height of a cubit, and is scarce equalled for its coldness, limpidity, and refreshing qualities. The sick that drink of it and persevere in a course of its waters, recover their health."
Bernier, who visited it in A.D. 1665, speaks of its beauties in the following glowing terms:
" Returning from Send-bray, I turned a little from the high road for the sake of visiting Achiavel, a country house formerly of the kings of Kachemire and now of the Great Mogol. What principally constitutes the beauty of this place is a fountain whose waters disperse themselves into a hundred canals round the house, which is by no means unseemly, and throughout the gardens. The spring gushes out of the earth with violence, as if it issued from the bottom of some well, and the water is so abundant that it ought rather be called a river than a fountain. It is excellent water and cold as ice. The garden is very handsome, laid out in regular walks, and full of fruit trees, apple, pear, plum, apricot, and cherry; jets-d'eau in various forms and fish-ponds are in great number; and there is a lofty cascade which in its fall takes the form and colour of a large sheet, thirty or forty paces in length, producing the finest effect imaginable, especially at night, when innumerable lamps, fixed in parts of the wall adapted for that purpose, are lighted under this sheet of water." This description, but for the dilapidated aspect of the tanks and water- courses, the comparative absence of fruit trees, and the total absence of nocturnal illuminations, might very well apply to the Achhabal garden of today. The cart-road and the dak bangalow have encroached upon its lowest terrace, though the original watercourse is still intact, and the foundations of its row of fountains are still visible in the water. A quaint doorway built in the time of the late Maharaja Ranbir Singhji gives admittance to the second terrace of the garden. Most of the barahdaris and pavilions belong to the repairs executed in the reign of the Maharaja Ranbir Singhji. Only the ruins of the pavilion over the fountain itself, standing solitary yet strong in defiance of the rushing waters and of the destructive vegetation, belong to Mughal times. This garden does not possess any sloping cascades. All the falls are vertical. To the west of the garden are, or rather were, the royal quarters, the present buildings being modern and contemporaneous with the pavilions. The hammam of Jahangir, however, is in excellent preservation. The objects specially noteworthy here are a piece of a timber conduit Iying in the compound and said to belong to Mughal times, and the system of earthen pipes which conveyed water to the royal bathrooms from the subterranean channel in the uppermost terrace of the garden.
Achhabal is an ideal place for laying out a garden. " Nowhere else have I seen such possibilities for a combined appeal, of a stately stone-bordered pleasance between ordered avenues of full-grown trees, and a natural rock and woodland upper garden with haunting far-reaching views, where the white wild roses foam over the firs and the boulders rivalling the sheet of water Bernier praised.''
The village of Kother is situated two miles above Achhabal, a little off the Achhabal-Kashtwar road. The name is derived from Kapatesvara, which is a contraction of Papasudana-Kapategvara, an appellation of Siva to whom the spring here is sacred. The place has for many centuries past enjoyed a great reputation for sanctity. King Bhoja of Malva, who was a contemporary of King Ananta (A.D. 1028-1063) of Kashmir, "had the round tank (kunda) constructed at Kapatesvara with heaps of gold that he sent. King Bhoja vowed that he would always wash his face in the water from the Papasudana ttrtha, and this (man Padmaraja) made the fulfilment of his difficult vow (possible) by regularly despatching from this (tlrtha) large numbers of glass jars filled with that water." The tank is circular. The stone basin built by Bhoja is still partially extant. The flights of steps flanked by side-walls which are surmounted by the cornices usual in Kashmiri temples, facing north and south respectively, lead down to the water level. By the side of the spring are two small temples which seem to be contemporaneous with the stone wall of the spring. The larger temple measures 8' 4" internally and faces south-west. Its roof seems to have been destroyed by fire. The entrance is 3' 8" by 6', and it is noteworthy that the recesses on the exterior of the other three sides, which in most other temples are of about the same dimensions as the open doorway, are in this instance much smaller.
The smaller temple measures 6' 4" internally. It faces west. Its lower part is buried underground. There is a long stretch of wall 246' long and about 12' wide, on the north side of the area, which originally formed part of the enclosure wall round the temples and the tank. The fragment that is above ground on the east side shows that this surrounding wall is in reality a cellular peristyle. The top stones of the cells are visible.
A curious local legend reports that a treasure lies buried somewhere in or near the spring, and that there was a stone slab embedded in the wall of the spring on which were inscribed directions for its discovery and expenditure on the repairs and upkeep of the spring and its dependent shrines. The same legend associates the name of a king Mutskund with the foundation of the temples. In support of this the people quote the adage:Mutsakund razas manshihandi kanTranslaion: King Mutsukund has buffalo's ears: where will they be removed ? In the wood of Kother.
Tim kati tsalanas ? Kuther van.
He is said to have been favoured by nature with a pair of buffalo's ears, of which he was anxious to rid himself, but he could not achieve his purpose by any means at his disposal. At length, being advised to try a bath in the waters of this spring, he had his heart's desire. In gratitude he expended his treasures upon the foundation and upkeep of the temples and the spring.
NOTE - Since the above was written, the area round the spring has been excavated, and, as was expected, a cellular quadrangle and a number of shrines belonging to the tenth to eleventh centuries have been exhumed. Stratigraphical evidence shows that there was an older stratum of buildings also, upon which the structures of the tenth to eleventh centuries were superimposed.
The small temple of Mamal (ancient Mamalaka) is situated on the right bank of the Lidar, exactly opposite the State Rest House at Pahalgam. For one who has seen the great temples of Martand and Avantipur, the journey to Mamal and back for the sole purpose of seeing this temple is perhaps not worth the trouble. But a visitor whom other pursuits call to Pahalgam should not miss seeing it.
The temple is 8' square internally, and has in front a porch supported on two fluted columns, one of which is missing. The superstructure has fallen down. No remnants of the ceiling are left. The walls are straight and vertical above the string course, and it is probable that originally there was no ceiling, as at Narastan.
It may well be that this temple is the same as that of Mammesvara, which the Rajatarangini mentions King Jayasimha (A.D. 1128-1155) to have adorned with a golden kalas'a, or finial. Its architecture also shows certain features which are undoubtedly decadent. One of these is the absence of projection in the corner pilasters. The temple was externally covered with a thick coat of lime plaster. It contains an old pedestal and a probably modern Siva-linga. A spring of remarkably pure water rises under the site of the temple. Its waters are enclosed in a basin in front of the stairs. The whole was originally surrounded by a rubble-stone wall, of which the foundations are still visible on the north side.
The spring of Vernag is the reputed source of the river Vitasta. In Hindu times it was known as the Nila-naga, and was sacred to the snake-deity of that name. The Nilamata Purana tells us that when Parvati had obtained the consent of her consort S'iva to incarnate in Kashmir as the river Vitasta in order to purify the country which had been defiled by the touch of Pisachas, who appear to have been some outlandish barbarians, he struck the earth at the site of the spring with his trident, and thus cleared the way for the issue of the waters of the Parvati-Vitasta from the nether world. Hence the tirtha also bore the alternative name of Sulaghata, " trident stroke." It seems to have retained considerable importance among Hindu places of pilgrimage even as late as Akbar's time, for Abul Fazl mentions the existence, to the east, of a number of stone temples. In his time it had already taken its present name of Vernag, borrowing it probably from the district of Ver, the name at that time of the modern Shahabad Pargana. Abul Fazl adds that "it is a pool measuring a jarib, which tosses in foam with an astonishing roar, and its depth is unfathomable, and is surrounded by a stone embankment. . . ."
The construction of the octagonal basin and the arcade (Plate LIV) which now surrounds it, was commenced by Jahangir and completed in the time of Shah Jahan. The former writes: "It is an octagonal reservoir about 20 yards by 20 yards. Near it are the remains of a place of worship for recluses: cells cut out of the rock and numerous caves. The water is exceedingly pure. Although I could not guess its depth, a grain of poppy-seed is visible until it touches the bottom. There are many fish to be seen in it. As I had heard that it was unfathomable, I ordered them to throw in a cord with a stone attached, and when this cord was measured in gaz it became evident that the depth was not more than one and a half the height of a man. After my accession I ordered them to build the sides of the spring with stone, and they made a garden round it with a canal; and built halls and houses about it, and made a place such that travellers over the world can point out few like it." This information from the pen of the Emperor himself probably accounts for the complete disappearance of the stone temples and caves, whose materials would afford the persons in charge of building operations too tempting a quarry to be lightly set aside. Of the buildings which Jahangir ordered to be constructed here only the range of twenty-four arches round the spring remains partially intact. The arches were originally built of stone, the walls being surmounted by a row of beautifully carved brackets which supported the eaves. A number of these are still in existence. On two sides of the octagon are larger chambers, each containing a staircase leading to the upper storey, no trace of which is left. The brick facing of the majority of the arches, as well as ruins of the walls of the second storey over the entrance chamber, belong to the repairs done by Wazir Punnu in the reign of the late Maharaja Ranbir Singhji. Two inscribed stone tablets, one belonging to the time of Jahangir and the other to that of Shah Jahan, are built into the wall of the arcade. The inscription of Shah Jahan was originally fixed in the wall of the entrance chamber, but was for some unknown reason removed some years ago by the Public Works Department contractor who was commissioned to raise the floor of the promenade round the spring, presumably for irrigation purposes. The raising of the level of the promenade accounts for the markedly stunted appearance of the arcade. Jahangir's inscription, which is dated the fifth year of his reign, runs as follows:Patshah-i haft-kishwar 'atalat-gugtar 'abu-al muzaffar Nurud Din Jahangir ibnTranslation: The king of the seven dominions, the Dispenser of Justice, the Victorious Lort, Nur-ud-Din Jahangir, son of Akhr Shah Ghazij bestowed grace upon this bounteous spring (by his presence) in the fifth year of his reign: the date: . . . .
Akbar Shah Ghazi batarikh-i
Sanah 5 julus darin Sar-chashma faiz-amin nazul ajlal farmudand; tarikh: -
Az Jahangir Shah-i Akbar Shah
In bina sar kashitah bar aflak
Bani-e aqal yaft tarikhash
Qasr abad-o chashma-i Varnag.
Through Jahangir Shah, the son of Akbar Shah, this fountation raiset its head to the high heavens. The source of wisdom (i.e., the author) discovered its date: May the palace ant the spring of Varnag endure (for ever).
The last line gives the date A. H . 1029 = A. D . 1619-20. Shah Jahan's inscription reads thus: -Haitar ba hukm-i Shah-i Jahan padshahi dahrTranslation: The Lord be praised for that Haidar, by the order of Shah-i Jahan, the monarch of the universe, constructed such a cascade and such a water- course. This watercourse is reminiscent of the stream that flows in heaven; and the cascade (is such) that (even) Kashmir derives honour from it. The invisible angel whispered the date (of construction) of the water-course in my ear. " This stream has sprung from the fountain of heaven."
Shukr-e khuda ki sakht chunin abshar jui
In jui tada ast zi ju-e bahisht yat
Zin abshar yafta Kashmir abrui
Tarikh-i jui guft ba gosham sarosh-i ghaib
Az chashma-i bihisht birun amatast jui.
The last line gives the date A.H. 1036, corresponding to A.D. 1626-27.
After the decline of the Mughal. Empire the Hindus reclaimed what they had lost. Some of the cells are now used as idol chambers, and priests serve as guides to visitors.
The surplus water of the spring was discharged by an underground conduit, the mouth of which is visible from above. Passing under the buildings the conduit crossed the garden and carried the water to the royal bathrooms, the ruins of which and of other buildings are still to be seen outside the rubble wall on the east side. The stream which flows from the spring is about 12' in width and runs throughout the length of the garden. It is spanned in the middle and at the northern end by two modern barahdaris. Only the upper terrace is enclosed, though the presence of the ruined water-chute, over which the stream rushes down, before leaving the garden, suggests the existence of a lower terrace.
The garden, in spite of its much curtailed dimensions, the presence of unsightly huts built by the local priests, and the general dilapidated condition of its streams and buildings, has a distinct charm, of which its royal founder seems to have been quite sensible; for the way-worn Jahangir, who expired at Chingas near Rajauri on his return journey from Kashmir, prayed with his dying breath to be conveyed to Vernag to be buried there. The garden with its shady trees, icy-cold water, and murmuring streams, overshadowed by the sombre pine-clad hills, is a place pre-eminently fitted to be the retreat of a recluse and the final resting-place of a world-weary emperor.